(Procession in dim light – Four Advent candles, Book of the Gospels – Archbishop)

Entrance Song   Wait for the Lord (Taizé)
All sing: Wait for the Lord, whose day is near
Wait for the Lord, keep watch take heart

Opening Prayer
Let us pray,
Father in Heaven,
Increase our longing for Christ our Saviour
and give us the strength to grow in love,
that the dawn of his coming
may find us rejoicing in his presence
and welcoming the light of his truth.
We ask this in the name of the Jesus the Lord. Amen.

Reading   Isaiah 45:8
Rain down you heavens, from above,
and let the clouds pour down saving justice,
let the earth open up and blossom with salvation,
and let justice sprout up with it: I the Lord have created it.!

Song  Rorate Coeli (Plainchant)
Rorate coeli de super et nubes pluant justum

All sing: Rorate coeli de super et nubes pluant justum

Ne irascaris Domine, ne ultra memineris iniquitatis;
Ecce civitas Sancti est desérta; Sion deserta factus est:
Jerusalem desolata est; domus sanctificationis tuae et gloriae tuae,
Ubi laudaverunt te patres nostril.

All sing:Rorate coeli de super et nubes pluant justum                          

Advent Reflection (Ruth Patterson adapted) (Light is extended as reflection is read)

Voice 1:  I wonder will God begin again with us this Christmas?

Voice 2: Two thousand years since God began before in such a little, mighty way, two thousand years since Heaven stood on tiptoe and all creation held its breath, as one little faithful soul said “yes” and opened up the way for God to come; two thousand years ago God spoke, and into the shadows of our exiled state God came in Jesus. God saw that it was good and the Light shone.

Voice 1:   There was another time, before the dawn of history, when God who was and is and evermore shall be, looked out on emptiness, on formless void cloaked in darkness. God spoke. God saw that it was good and Light began to shine.

Voice 2:  But darkness armed itself for war, willing once again the chaos where it would be at home, and, waiting to usurp the place of God, used the flower of all of God’s creation, the beloved of his heart, to seek to overcome the Light. Even in the darkness God never ceased to look with love on all he had made.

Voice 1:  So, when the time was right, two thousand years ago God dealt a shattering blow to the Darkness. God spoke His Word, and Living Flame, Unconquerable Light shone in darkness and darkness could not overpower it.

Song  Immanuel (Michael Card)
A sign shall be given, A virgin will conceive A human baby bearing, Undiminished deity The glory of the nations, A light for all to see That hope for all who will embrace, His warm reality Immanuel, Our God is with us, And if God is with us Who could stand against us, Our God is with us, Immanuel For all those who live in the shadow of death A glorious light has dawned For all those who stumble in the darkness Behold your light has come

Immanuel, Our God is with us, And if God is with us, Who could stand against us, Our God is with us, Immanuel
The big flame is lit at this point

Voice 2:   Two thousand years, and we, the present bearers of that living Flame, cry out for God to begin again with us.

Voice 1:  For darkness stalks the earth so powerfully still. Yet, in the midst of seeming victory, the Flame still burns. The Light still shines.
Is there within the heart of God the hope and the desire to begin again with us – with me?

Voice 2:   If I, a little stumbling faithful soul says “yes”, and others in so many other places do the same, then once again, all Heaven will stand on tiptoe, and all creation hold its breath, as in our day the way is opened up for God to come.

Voice 1 & 2:  I wonder, will God begin again with us this Christmas?

Prayer   Let us pray,
All say:  Gracious God, creator of all that is good,
Be with those today who find it difficult to accept the gift of life.
May we stand beside them, walk before them, hold and shelter them, touch and heal them in your name.
We ask this through Christ, our Lord Amen.

Song  Stand Beside Me (John Columba McCann) – Psalm 139 adapted
All sing: Stand beside me, walk before me,
hold and shelter me, touch and heal me                                 

 You search my heart and you know me
You know my resting and rising
Where I walk and where I take my rest
All my ways lie open to you

All sing:  Stand beside me, walk before me,
hold and shelter me, touch and heal me

 O where can I flee from your spirit
 wander beyond the reach of your love
 In the depths of darkness you are there
You are there in the heights of heaven

All sing: Stand beside me, walk before me,
hold and shelter me, touch and heal me

Reading Luke 1:26-38 – Peter
The angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the House of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. He went in and said to her, ‘Rejoice, so highly favoured! The Lord is with you.’ She was deeply disturbed by these words and asked herself what this greeting could mean, but the angel said to her, ‘Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God’s favour. Listen! You are to conceive and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of the ancestor David; he will rule over the House of Jacob for ever and his reign will have no end.’ Mary said to the angel, ‘But how can this come  about, since I am a virgin?’ ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you’ the angel answered ‘and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow. And so the child will be holy and will be called Son of God. Know this too; your kinswoman Elizabeth has, in her old age, herself conceived a son, and  she whom people called barren is now in her sixth month, for nothing is impossible to God.’ ‘I am the handmaid of the Lord’, said Mary, ‘let what you have said be done to me’. And the angel left her.

Instrumental Cantiga de Sancta Maria (Spanish)  

Reflection:   The Power of One (Various Voices)
Mary – her yes, our yes – Christopher One song can spark a moment, One flower can wake the dream. One tree can start a forest, One bird can herald spring. One smile begins a friendship, One handclasp lifts a soul. One star can guide a ship at sea, One word can frame the goal. One vote can change a nation, One sunbeam lights a room. One candle wipes out darkness, One laugh will conquer gloom. One step must start each journey, One word must start each prayer. One hope will raise our spirits, One touch can show you care. One voice can speak with wisdom, One heart can know what’s true, One life can make the difference, You see, it’s up to you.

Song Behold a Virgin (Ronan McDonagh)
Behold a virgin bearing Him
Who comes to save us from our sin
The prophets cry prepare the way
Make straight his paths to Christmas day.

Behold our hope and life and light
The promise of the holy night
We lift our prayer and bend our knee
to His great love and majesty

Reading  Luke 1:39-45
Mary set out at that time and went as quickly as she could into the hill country to a town in Judah. She went into Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth. Now it happened that as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting,  the child leapt in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. She gave a loud cry and said, ‘Of all women you are the most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Why should I be honoured with a visit from the mother of my Lord? Look, the moment your greeting reached my ears, the child in my womb leapt for joy. Yes, blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.                      

Reflection Magnificat of Betrothal by Ann Johnson (Adapted)  

Our souls are filled with wonder at the gift of loving. You have looked upon us with favor as we join our lives in response to you.
And holy, holy, holy is his name

Yes, from this time on all people will call us blessed, for you, the One who dwells in human hearts, have done great things for us.
And holy, holy, holy is his name

Holy, is your name, and your sustaining joy reaches from age to age to those who dare to journey on the difficult pathways of committed love.
And holy, holy, holy is his name

You have shown us the life-changing power of our love in the eyes of those who know us and in the richness of our work.
And holy, holy, holy is his name

The false pride that we treasured, our ability to stand alone, has been cast aside. We understand ourselves and you more tenderly as we begin to experience the treasure of a lifetime of standing together.
And holy, holy, holy is his name

We are no longer lonely. We touch with compassion those who come to us filled with needs.
And holy, holy, holy is his name

You have opened the doors of eternity to us as we searched for you, according to the dreams you shared with those who sought your face since the beginning of time.
And holy, holy, holy is his name

All say:Lord of hope and joy,
We pray that the unfolding days of Advent
may open up possibilities for deepening our appreciation
of the precious gift that is Jesus, your loving Son.
Hold us in a spirit of anticipation that we may truly rejoice
on Christmas Day at the wonder of the eternal promise He brings.
We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Sometimes love is for a moment
Sometimes love is for a lifetime
Sometimes a moment is a lifetime                 

Song Voice of an Angel (Liam Lawton)
When I’m lying in the darkness and am half afraid to sleep
I keep thinking of tomorrow and the thoughts that lie so deep
Then I pray in talking whispers cause I know that somewhere near
Is the presence of an angel come to hold me through my fear.
And who are you who guides me, my messenger of light
Will you walk beside me now beyond the day and night
Or who are you who guides me with words I cannot write
It’s the voice of an angel, the voice of an angel, the voice of an angel
come to hold me close this night.

Reflection Advent 1948 (Jessica Powers)
I live my Advent in the womb of Mary.
And on one night when a great star swings free
from its high mooring and walks down the sky
to be the dot above the Christus i,
I shall be born of her by blessed grace.
I wait in Mary-darkness, faith’s walled place,
with hope’s expectance of nativity.

I knew for long she carried me and fed me,
guarded and loved me, though I could not see.
But only now, with inward jubilee,
I come upon earth’s most amazing knowledge:
someone is hidden in this dark with me.                               

Song  Dona Nobis Pacem (Owen Lynch)
All sing:  Dona nobis pacem, Dona nobis pacem,
Dona nobis pacem, pacem Domini.

My soul in the stillness of the night awaits the morning light
And with coming of the dawn, another day is born.
Blessed are you oh Lord of all, you answer when I call.
Lead me from darkness into light, and end the lonely night.                        


Reflection  An Advent meditation sealed with a promise
Prepare the way of the Lord
Poor, cluttered hearts starving for the emptiness
that makes fullness possible
It is so little that He asks of us
Give some evidence that you mean to reform
Wear lights in your hearts instead of on your trees.
Our autumned hearts stand waiting for the Father’s gift
Come, Lord Jesus, come
Gospel up our lives with your presence
and we’ll wear lights in our hearts instead of on our trees.

Reflection  Care for Women and Children

Song  Breath of Heaven (Amy Grant/Chris Eaton)
I am waiting in a silent prayer.
I am frightened by the load I bear.
In a world as cold as stone,
Must I walk this path alone.
Be with me now, be with me now,

Breath of heaven, hold me together.
Be forever near me, breath of heaven.
Breath of heaven lighten my darkness
Pour over me Your holiness, for You are Holy,
breath of heaven.
Help me be strong, Help me be. Help me.

Reflection St. John of the Cross
The Virgin, weighed
With the Word of God
Comes down the road:
If only you will shelter her.!

Leader:  Into our world as into Mary’s womb ….
All sing: Come to us O Emmanuel
Leader: Into the forgotten places, as into the stable ….
All sing: Come to us O Emmanuel
Leader: Into the lives of the poor, bring hope;
Into the lives of the powerful, bringing caution;
All sing:  Come to us O Emmanuel
Leader: Into the lives of the weary, bringing rest;
Into the lives of the wise, bringing restlessness;
All sing:  Come to us O Emmanuel
Leader: and into our lives and longings, whatever our estate….
All sing:  Come to us O Emmanuel
Leader: This is good news: Christ is coming
and blessed are those who wait on the Lord.
All sing:  Come to us O Emmanuel

Concluding Prayer   

All say: God of power and mercy,
open our hearts in welcome.
Remove the things that hinder us from receiving Christ with joy,
so that we may share his wisdom
and become one with him
when he comes in glory,
for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
One God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Advent Blessing You believe that the Son of God once came to us;
you look for him to come again.
May his coming bring you the light of his holiness
and free you with his blessing.

May God make you steadfast in faith,
joyful in hope, and untiring in love
all the days of your life.

You rejoice that our Redeemer came to live with us as man.
When he comes again in glory,
may he reward you with endless life.

May almighty God bless you,
The Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Final Song Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord
All sing:  Prepare ye the Way of the Lord